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“No; I should have had though, but Miller had no shorts nor fresh flour, nor won't till next week. What's to go down, Mrs. Forbes ?”
“ The nicest load ever you carried, Mr. Van Brunt. Here's a little lady come to stay with Miss Fortune. She's a daughter of Captain Montgomery, Miss Fortune's brother, you know. She came by the stage a little while ago, and the thing is now to get her down to-night. She can go in the cart, can't she ?”
Mr. Van Brunt looked a little doubtful, and pulling off, his сар
with one hand, while he scratched his head with the other, he examined Ellen from head to foot; much as if she had been some great bale of goods, and he were considering whether his cart would hold her or not. Well,”
,” said he at length,—“I don't know but she can; but there ain't nothing on 'arth for her to sit down upon.”
“O, never mind; I'll fix that,” said Mrs. Forbes. "Is there any straw in the bottom of the cart ?" “ Not a bit.”
Well, l'll fix it,” said Mrs. Forbes. “You get her trunk into the cart, will you Mr. Van Brunt? and I'll see to the rest.
Mr. Van Brunt moved off without another word to do what was desired of him,-apparently quite confounded at having a passenger instead of his more wonted load of bags and barrels. And his face still continued to wear the singular doubtful expression it had put on at first hearing the news. Ellen's trunk was quickly hoisted in, however; and Mrs. Forbes presently appeared with a little arm-chair, which Mr. Van Brunt with an approving look bestowed in the cart, planting it with its back against the trunk to keep it steady. Mrs. Forbes then raising herself on tiptoe by the side of the cart, took a view of the arrangements.
“That won't do yet,” said she; “her feet will be cold on that bare floor, and’tain't over clean neither. Here, Sally! run up and fetch me that piece of carpet you'll find lying at the top of the back stairs. Now, hurry !—Now, Mr. Van Brunt, I depend upon you to get my things back again ; will you see and bring 'em the first time you come in town?"
“ i'll see about it. But what if I can't get hold of them ?" answered the person addressed, with a half smile.
“0," said Mrs. Forbes, with another, “I leave that to you; you have your ways and means. Now, just spread this carpet down nicely under her chair; and then she'll be fixed. Now, my darling, you'll ride like a queen. But how are you going to get in? Will you let Mr. Van Brunt lift
Ellen's “O no, ma'am, if you please!" was accompanied with such an evident shrinking from the proposal, thai Mrs. Forhes did not press it. A chair was brought from the kitchen, and by making a long stép from it to the top of the wheel, and then to the edge of the cart, Ellen was at length safely stored in her place. Kind Mrs. Forbes then stretched
up over the side of the cart to shake hands with her and bid her good-by, telling her again she would ride like a queen. Ellen answered only “Good-by, ma'am;" but it was, said with“ a look of so much sweetness, and eyes swimming hälf-in-sadness and half in gratefulness, that the good landlady could not-forget it.
“I do think,” said she, when she went back to her husband," that is the fearest little thing, about, I ever did see.
“Hample! Lisaidwhór husband, “I reckon Miss Fortune will think so too."
"The doubtful look came back to Mrs. Forbes' face, and with another little' grave shake of her head, she went into the kitohen:11,
“ How kind. she is! how good every body is, to me, thought little Ellen, as she moved off in state in her chariot drawn by.oxen. Quite a contrast this new way of travel- . ling was to the noisy- stage and swift steamer. Ellen did not know at first whether to like or dislike it; but she came to the conclusion that it was very funny, and a remarkably amusing way of getting along. There was one disadvantage about it certainly,—their rate of travel was very slow. Ellen wondered her charioteer did not make his animals go faster; but she soon forgot their lazy progress in the interest of novel sights and new scenes.
Slowly, very slowly, the good oxen drew the cart and the little queen in the arm-chair out of the town, and they entered upon the open country. The sun had already gone down when they left the inn, and the glow of his setting had faded a good deal by the time they got quite out of
the town; but light enough was left still to delight Ellen with the pleasant look of the country. It was a lovely evening, and quiet as summer; not a breath stirring. The leaves were ali off the trees; the hills were brown; but the soft warm light that still lingered upon them forbade any look of harshness or dreariness. These hills lay towards the west, and at Thirlwall were not more than two miles distant, but sloping off more to the west as the range extended in a southerly direction. Between, the ground was beautifully broken. Rich fields and meadows Jay on all sides, sometimes level, and sometimes with a soft wavy surface, where Ellen thought it must be charming to run up and down. Every now and then these were varied by a little rising ground capped with a piece of woodland; and beautiful trees, many of them, were seen standing alone, espe: cially by the road-side. All had a cheerful, pleasant look. The houses were very scattered; in the whole way they passed but few. Ellen's heart regularly began to beat when they came in sight of one, and “I wonder if that is aunt Fortune's house!"_" perhaps it is!"-or, “I hope it is not!" were the thoughts that rose in her mind. But slowly the oxen brought her abreast of the houses, one after another, and slowly they passed on beyond, and there was no sign of getting home yet. Their way was through pleasant lanes towards the south, but constantly approaching the hills. About half a mile from Thirlwall, they crossed a little river, not more than thirty yards broad, and after that the twilight deepened fast. The shades gathered on field and hill: every thing grew brown, and then dusky; and then Ellen was obliged to content herself with what was very near, for further than that she could only see dim outlines. She began again to think of their slow travelling, and to wonder that Mr. Van Brunt could be content with it. She wondered too what made him walk, when he might just as well have sat in the cart; the truth was he had chosen that for the very purpose that he might have a good look at the little queen in the arm-chair. Apparently, however, he too now thought it might be as well to make a little haste, for he thundered out some orders to his oxen, accompanied with two or three strokes of his heavy lash, which, though not cruel by any means, went to Ellen's heart.
“Them lazy critters won't go fast anyhow," said he to Ellen,—“they will take their own time; it ain't no use to cut them.”
"O no! pray don't, if you please!” said Ellen, in a voice of earnest entreaty.
“ 'Tain't fair neither," continued Mr. Van Brunt, lashing his great whip from side to side without touching any thing. “I have seen critters that would take any quantity of whipping to make them go, but thern 'ere ain't of that kind; they'll work as long as they can stand, poor fellows !"
There was a little silence, during which Ellen eyed her rough charioteer, not knowing exactly what to make of bim,
guess this is the first time you ever rid in an ox-cart, ain't it?" “Yes," said Ellen ; “I never saw one before."
Ha’n't you never seen an ox-cart! Well-how do you like it?"
“I like it very much indeed. Have we much farther to go before we get to aunt Fortune's house ?”
Aunt Fortune's house ! a pretty good bit yet. You see that mountain over there ?"--pointing with his whip to a hill directly west of them, and about a mile distant.
“Yes,” said Ellen.
“ That's the Nose. Then you see that other ?”—pointing to one that lay some two miles further south ;
“ Miss Fortune's house is just this side of that; it's all of two miles from here."
And urged by this recollection, he again scolded and cheered the patient oxen, who for the most part kept on their steady way without any reminder. But perhaps it was for Ellen's sake that he scarcely touched them with the whip.
• That don't hurt them, not a bit,” he remarked to Ellen, -“ it only lets them know that I'm here, and they must mind their business. So you're Miss Fortune's niece, eh ?" “ Yes,” said Ellen.
Well,” said Mr. Van Brunt, with a desperate attempt at being complimentary, “I shouldn't care if you was mine
Ellen was somewhat astounded, and so utterly unable to
echo the wish, that she said nothing. She did not know it, but Mr. Van Brunt had made, for him, most extraordinary efforts at sociability. Having quite exhausted himself, he now mounted into the cart and sat silent, only now and then uttering energetic “Gee's !” and “Haw's!" which greatly excited Ellen's wonderment. She discovered they were meant for the ears of the oxen, but more than that she could not make out.
They plodded along very slowly, and the evening fell fast. As they left behind the hill which Mr. Van Brunt had called “the Nose,” they could see, through an opening in the moun. tains, a bit of the western horizon, and soine brightness still lingering there; but it was soon hid from view, and darkness veiled the whole country. Ellen could amuse herself no longer with looking about; she could see nothing very clearly but the outline of Mr. Van Brunt's broad back, just before her. But the stars had come out !-and, brilliant and clear, they were looking down upon her with their thousand eyes. Ellen's heart jumped when she saw them with a mixed feeling of pleasure and sadness. They carried her right back to the last evening, when she was walking up the hill with Timmins; she remembered her anger against Mrs. Dunscombe, and her kind friend's warning not to indulge it, and all his teaching that day; and tears came with the thought, how glad she should be to hear him speak to her again. Still looking up at the beautiful quiet stars, she thought of her dear far-off mother, how long it was already since she had seen her;—faster and faster the tears dropped ;--and then she thought of that glorious One who had made the stars, and was above them all, and who could and did see her mother and her, though ever so far apart, and could hear and bless them both. The little face was no longer upturned-it was buried in her hands, and bowed to her lap, and tears streamed as she prayed that God would bless her dear mother and take care of her. Not once nor twice;—the fulness of Ellen's heart. could not be poured out in one asking. Greatly comforted at last, at having as it were laid over the care of her mother upon One who was able, she thought of herself, and her late resolution to serve him. She was in the same mind still. She could not call herself a Christian yet, but she was resolved to be one; and